UNION officials fired another volley in their battle against a hotel yesterday by announcing that they would file a complaint today with a Siem Reap court, as their protests continued to draw unwanted attention to the tourist town.
The Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation complaint will demand that luxury Angkor Village Hotel and Resort respect an Arbitration Council ruling and reinstate 67 workers who were sacked early this year after some began unionising.
The hotel’s owner, Tep Vantho, has repeatedly said the workers were sacked not for unionising but because of unrelated misconduct, including an attempt to poison her. She has filed a criminal complaint against six union officials with the provincial court.
Attending the near week-long strike outside the hotel yesterday, Siem Reap provincial court prosecutor Ouy Somphea said that once the complaint was filed he would bring both sides of the dispute to the table within a week in order to seek a compromise.
“There are two choices that the workers’ union could make. The first is to strike and the second is to file the complaint to the court about the case of the owner rejecting the award of the Arbitration Council,” he said.
Provincial labour and court officials have backed down from previous demands that Tep Vantho respect Cambodian law and abide by the Arbitration Council decision, conceding that a new resolution must be found as the owner has categorically refused to reinstate the workers. Tep Vantho reiterated yesterday that the only offer she would put on the table was compensation. “My current staff told me that they could not work with the ones who joined this union and they were scared of the way they acted,” she said.
Art Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said yesterday that protestors would halt their demonstration temporarily to observe the outcome of the court complaint – though based on previous experience he held little confidence in a fair outcome.
The protesters have targeted the hotel’s clientele, distributing leaflets to guests, accusing Tep Vantho of breaking the labour law, and have issued a press release warning that anyone who stays there is breaking a picket line.